Miami-Dade mayor asks state to intervene in Opa-locka's financial operations

Mayor Carlos Gimenez says Opa-locka owes county 'significant amount of funds'

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor, Shyann Malone - Anchor/Reporter

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. - Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez wrote a letter to Chief Inspector General Melinda Miguel Thursday asking the state to intervene in the financial operations of the city of Opa-locka.

The letter came the same day that federal agents executed a search warrant at the Opa-locka Municipal Complex, although Miami-Dade County spokesman Mike Hernandez said the timing was coincidental.

"It was coincidental. It was not planned to work out that way," Hernandez told Local 10 News reporter Shyann Malone.

Opa-locka Mayor Myra Taylor and her husband are under investigation for an alleged kickback scheme related to a city sewer project. The couple is accused of taking $150,000 from the city to support their own finances.

"As we discussed with you on March 4, 2016, we have serious reservations about the financial health of the city of Opa-locka and believe the city should be under the state of Florida's oversight," Gimenez wrote in the letter. "We have been aware of the city's financial troubles for some times, especially since Miami-Dade County is owed a significant amount of funds, primarily for water and sewer services."

READ: Full letter sent to Chief Inspector General Melinda Miguel

According to Hernandez, the city of Opa-locka now owes the county more than $4 million.

"Miami-Dade County had identified possible misspending of transit funds and had realized that over the course of several months the water and sewer bills that the city of Opa-locka owed Miami-Dade County had at that time surpassed $3 million, along with others, and as of today, the city of Opa-Locka owes Miami-Dade County roughly $4.4 million," Hernandez said.

Taylor declined to comment to Local 10 News, but former Vice Mayor Steven Barrett told Local 10 News reporter Derek Shore that he believes the allegations.

"This is the most corrupt city in the world," Barrett said.

Former Opa-locka city manager Steve Shiver also released a statement on Facebook shortly after the raid:

"Hello. I, like many of you, have been watching with great interest the events unfolding at City Hall in the city of Opa-locka. I've seen the Facebook posts, I've seen pictures of FBI agents removing documents and other things from the city administrative offices. At this time, I can't go into any specifics on the advice of my consul, Rick Yabor. However, if you'll recall, before being abruptly terminated city manager in November of last year, I pointed out several irregularities and there were things that just didn't make sense about their financial systems there. At this point, I hope and pray that our justice system will rapidly resolve this issue and allow the good citizens, the business owners and residents of Opa-locka to finally move forward. Thank you very much."

City officials voted 3-1 to fire Shiver in November after he spent three months as Opa-locka's city manager.

According to the Miami Herald, the firing was led by the mayor after Shiver asked the state for help in resolving an $8 million deficit.

Taylor criticized the move and said Shiver should have taken the issue to the city commission.

The FBI said no arrests have been made.

 

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